Growing up in South Louisiana, I was always surrounded by food and family. I can remember spending countless hours in the kitchen helping my mom, dad and grandparents. Watching everything they did, and helping in any way that I could: measuring, pouring, mixing. Whatever it was, I just wanted to be part of it.
Cut to today where I have my own family – four kids, two dogs, a cat, a hamster and a husband. Our life is chaotic to say the least, but I make cooking and baking a part of our lives as well. That doesn’t mean we don’t have take out and the occasional drive-thru, but my kids prefer to make something at home than go out to eat.
Cooking with your kids doesn’t mean you have to make gourmet meals. We make easy dishes, especially during the week. We even have Taco Tuesdays, and whip up more elaborate dishes on the weekends. We grill, we bake, we sometimes have breakfast for dinner. Sometimes it’s something as simple as grilled cheese and veggies. Don’t make it stressful, just make it fun.
I’m often asked how do I get my kids interested enough to help? I think you’ll find more often times then not, the dilemma is that they always want to help. But here are some tips I do to help spark their interest.
- We go shopping together. I let them have input on what they want to eat and make.
- I LOVE cookbooks so I have many in the house. I have my go-to meals, but I often look through cookbooks and online for inspiration. I encourage my kids to do the same. I find they like to look for something new to try themselves.
- We watch cooking shows, baking shows, etc. Not all the time, because who actually has time for that!
- I let them be creative and make a mess. My kitchen is a disaster after my kids have their turn. I don’t particularly like this part, but I also don’t say a word. Without me nagging them to keep clean, they get creative and feel a sense of accomplishment. They are not afraid to jump in and take control.
- I let them help with meal planning, which in return, actually gets them to eat what we are serving.
- Being part of the process from start to finish. Some of their chores are setting the table, loading and unloading the dishwasher, etc. The fun and the not so fun.
- We sit down at the table for a family meal. In our family, life is often too fast. There’s so much running around and a whole lot of controlled chaos, but sitting down as a family lets us take a time out for a moment.
Here’s an idea for your fun meal night: Try make your own pizza night like we did. It was super easy and they were able to get creative. I bought the dough already made and pizza sauce from Trader Joe’s. I put different toppings into small cups. Then let them make their own pizza just the way they like it. Try cooking with your kids, have fun and enjoy!